Steam Next Fest - February 2023

Posted on February 10, 2023 by Aywren

The newest Steam Next Fest rolled into town, and it had a lot of appealing demos for me this time around. This included at least one game that was already on my wishlist.

I ended up downloading about 9 demos, and have tried all but two of them. Here’s what I thought so far. For more information on a game, click the title of the game to view its Steam page.


This is a chill little city builder with a fairytale spin on it. I enjoyed what I played of it – up until a mouse bug kept me from progressing. I think they patched the demo after I finished, but I did get a solid amount of playtime with it. I liked that the game’s tutorial was something that gave you goals to lead you along on your town’s development – it had a nice, organic feel.

I’m glad for a relaxed city building experience – I’m always up for chill and casual. I’m just not sure what sets it apart as a city builder, however. Maybe there’s more to it than I experienced so far. This is likely a game that I’ll keep my eye on in the future because I did like the art style and overall feel.

The Ranch of Rivershine

I played this game because it’s something I wishlisted last year. I’m all for a farm/life sim that focuses on creating a horse ranch – naturally!

I find the game overall charming, and the concept of your horse earning skill as you just do normal things while riding is nice. However, I found the movement system in the game far from fluid, even when your player character is dismounted. For a game about movement (riding, jumping, etc), it’s a bit of a turn off to have stiff controls.

I’m not sure if that’s because my horse is still low level, and at higher training levels, riding might feel better. But, as I noted, I felt it when my character was on foot, too.

I’m leaving this demo installed, and will likely come back to it again, as I believe they’ve released this demo outside of the Steam Next Fest environment as a beta type test. I can see improvements needed here, but I’m going to keep watching it.

Uncharted Waters Origin

I absolutely loved the old Uncharted Waters: New Horizons game on the SNES, and put a LOT of time into it many years back. I even have the Wii U version – though I need to play it again someday.

Much was my surprise when I saw Uncharted Waters Origin – with all the old characters I remembered from the SNES game. I immediately downloaded the demo without looking into what it was, thinking this was a remake of the original.

Turns out, this is a sailing/trading/battle MMO of all things, based on the original game. While there was some wonky dialogue, the graphics and effects were glorious, and I really, really enjoyed the feeling of sailing from port to port.

While I’m a little hesitant to jump into this on release – it looks like it will be one of those cash shop F2P games – I did pre-register for it because I just had a lot of chill fun sailing and trading. I’ve read that the original (Korean?) release taught the team that they needed PVE servers from the start. The only way I’m playing this is if there is a PVE server, period. So we’ll see how this one shakes out.

I’ve been looking for a fun sailing/trading game for a while.

Tiny Life

I have to say that I love the idea of a pixel Sims type game. But this one just didn’t do it for me.

I’m not usually a graphics snob, and I love a good pixel game as long as the art stands out. The issue I had with Tiny Life is that the pixel style was as basic as basic could be, and it made almost everything difficult to see and interact with.

For example, there’s a table and chairs out on the porch here, but you can hardly tell because the furniture blends with the floor color.

Sure, I could have put down a different deck style in a different color, but I shouldn’t have to. The art should be done in a way that things of similar color still stand out against each other. I saw this with the kitchen table/chairs and floor, too.

I also learned that details and design of my sim-like characters was much more important to me than I realized in this kind of game. The tiny sprites are cute, but not relatable for me.

I also noticed that as long as you had a tiny selected, they didn’t do anything on their own, and only acted when you told them to. The other tinies were autonomous, just not the one you had selected. For example, I took the tiny pictured below to the park and she just stood there, doing nothing.

I’m much more of a watcher when it comes to this kind of game. So, for one character to do absolutely nothing just because you have them selected defeats the purpose of a sim-like game for me.

These things might be in the works, but while I laud the folks who are trying to make this game, I’ll just say it’s not for me.

NecroNomNomNom: Eldritch Horror Dating

This is not the type of game I normally play, but it sounded so quirky that I had to try it. The demo was shorter than I would have liked, and I think I got the bad ending, but it was still fun with a lot of dead-pan eldritch humor.

The art is astounding and the atmosphere on point. The dialogue is well written and very witty, and had me laughing out loud at times.

There’s a lot to like here, to be honest. If I had to nit-pick anything, it’s some of the UI choices. You can only make text go faster by clicking in the text box alone. And when you have to make choices, they pop up in the middle of the screen. This means that you have to constantly be flicking your mouse from the bottom of the screen to the middle to interact, which got a little old as time went on. That might just be a me thing, though.

But aside from that, I had a lot of fun with this demo, as limited as it was.

I Am Future

I actually adored the idea and implementation of this game. It’s a twist on the survival/life sim type game where your character wakes up sometime in the future, on a broken world without other people, and he must survive with what he can find left on the top of a building.

I love the cartoony graphics, the crafting and gathering, and just the concept in all. While some things the game does help teach you, I did struggle with other things that weren’t intuitive. This was the fishing system (I eventually figured it out, but had used all my bait by then), figuring out how to boil salt water to make it fresh for watering plants, and just a few other things.

I also ran into a few bugs that caused me to put the game away for the night. Despite that, I feel the game is fairly polished – if they can just stomp the bugs and give a few more tutorials, it will be a fun experience. It went on my wishlist.

Lakeburg Legacies

This was the final demo I tried, and boy did I have a good time with it! I’m not quite sure how to describe it – it’s a kingdom building sim where you hook up your subjects to make strong family structures. There wasn’t much of a tutorial to it, so I had to stumble around a bit at first to figure the UI out. But once I did, it was mostly intuitive.

I know I probably didn’t make the best life choices for some of these subjects, and I stopped playing when I got the castle built. I was hoping to see other buildings – such as the inn or theater – since I noticed that some of the subjects had skills in things like that. But I assume it’s limited due to being a demo.

I had a great time with this one and it went on the wishlist for the future, for sure!

I have two more demos that I’ve yet to try – Roots of Yggdrasil and Dawnlands. I will hopefully get to them sometime this weekend. There were just a LOT of games that were in my wheelhouse this Next Fest, so it was hard to limit the demos I wanted to try.

*|* {February} *|* {2023} *|* {Gaming} *|*